In the three weeks since Rep. Dennis Moore announced he wouldn’t run again in 2010, the names of several potential candidates have floated around the 3rd District.
Heading into this weekend, the picture didn’t seem to be any clearer on who would be the Democratic and Republican contenders for the seat that represents eastern Douglas, Wyandotte and Johnson counties.
“I’d like to see what the scope of the candidates are,” said state Rep. Pat Colloton, a Leawood Republican who has formed an exploratory committee on whether to run.
She’s not alone.
On the GOP side, Rep. Kevin Yoder, House appropriations chairman of Overland Park, is exploring a bid. State Sen. Jeff Colyer, an Overland Park physician, has also been mentioned.
One person — Amanda Adkins, the state GOP chairwoman — said this week she remained focused on her family and her job at Cerner Corp.
“For now, my leadership at the party will continue to be my civic contribution,” she wrote in an e-mail.
A few people had already announced on the Republican side. Former state Sen. Nick Jordan, of Shawnee, who lost to Moore in 2008, has said he is definitely running based on favorable polling data and the infrastructure he has in place from his recent bid.
He has joined former state Rep. Patricia Lightner, of Olathe, and candidates Daniel Gilyeat, John Rysavy and Tom Scherer.
Burdett Loomis, a Kansas University political science professor, said as it stands now the crowded primary field could be a race among Jordan, Yoder, Colyer, Lightner and Colloton. He considers Colloton to be the most moderate of the candidates, which could give her an advantage.
“If you’re a moderate and want to wait and see if you’ve got four to five committed conservatives, you might want to take your chances on getting 25 to 30 percent of the vote and stealing it,” said Loomis, who worked in Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ administration in 2005.
Adkins, who lives in the district, said the competition is a good thing for the party and that the field will likely narrow in coming months.
Fewer names have been rumored on the Democratic side.
State Rep. Paul Davis, the House minority leader and a Lawrence attorney, said Democrats are encouraged that Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Joe Reardon is seriously considering a run.
“I really believe that Joe is one of the most talented people in Kansas government right now,” Davis said. “He’s really done some great things in Wyandotte County and is probably as close to any politician in that area that is someone who has really unified people behind him.”
Davis himself has not actively looked at running, and he said he planned to support Reardon if he enters the race. Carol Marinovich, another former Kansas City, Kan., mayor, is also a potential candidate, Loomis said.
President Barack Obama was able to carry the district in 2008, and Kansas Democratic Party staffers released a memo this week highlighting that Republican voter registration numbers in Johnson County slipped from 169,000 to 164,000 from 2006 to November 2009. During that time Democrats gained from 71,000 to 83,000 voters, and unaffiliated voters increased from 99,600 to 104,500.
Loomis said it has become a “50-50 district,” but he still gave a slight edge to Republicans in a race without an incumbent congressman.
“I think it’s pretty much a tossup district right now,” he said. “The nominations are really worth having for both parties.”